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About the IBM Executive typewriter - available since the 50s

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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:32 AM
Original message
About the IBM Executive typewriter - available since the 50s
(From http://www.well.com/user/smalin/typinwhy.htm ...)
"The IBM Executive typewriter I found at a garage sale was magnificent, and (having been long since replaced by the Selectric), dirt cheap. Only somebody with a PhD in secretarial skills could operate it. It was a proportional spacing machine: an 'm' was five spaces wide, an 'i' was two. There were two separate space bars (two and three spaces respectively). To correct a mistake, you had to know the width of all the characters involved so that you could backspace the appropriate amount (backspace was the only single-space key on the machine). There was an arcane procedure for producing justified type which involved typing a page a first time (while using a special guide to measure where the lines ended), noting the extra spaces that needed to be added, marking the copy to show where two-width spaces would be replaced with three-width spaces (or, in the worst case, two two-width spaces), and typing the page a second time. Even loading the ribbon (it was one of the first carbon ribbon machines on the market) was a major challenge: its rimless reels would spill their contents at the slightest mishandling, and the thin (less than 1/2" wide) tape had to be threaded through bewildering series of slots, grooves, carriers, and guides. It was a machine only a fanatic could love, and I did. I made regular trips to Santa Barbara's IBM parts center, and spent hours with tweezers, probes, hooks, needle-nosed pliers and other fine tools, getting it working right."



Now, if some enterprising DUer wants to do the grunt work, it could be verified that the characters in the memoranda are FOUR distinct widths and the space are two distinct widths or a combination thereof.


It should be noted that the (semi-)proportional spaced type was NOT a preferred office machine for filling out forms! The military is and was rife with preprinted forms. It was almost only used for free-form correspondence and documents (posted announcements) where "eye-wash" was desired. Thus, it is not at all surprising that fixed-width typewriters were
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The_Casual_Observer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:39 AM
Response to Original message
1. The unnamed fox "expert" didn't have a clue
as to how any of this could be done without office 2003.
:+
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. that's what you get when all your "experts" are under 35
and were hired right out of conservative colleges.

They don't know squat.
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The_Casual_Observer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. "They don't know squat."
Maybe not about this, but they sure as hell know how to spoil a damaging news story.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Once upon a time, I didn't trust anyone over 30.
Now I don't trust anyone under 35 whenever anything pre-Reagan is being discussed. These are people who have absolutely no concept of a world without computers, CDs, pocket calculators, copiers, etc. They never dirtied their fingers on carbon paper or got a bit high on mimeograph fumes.

Even so, I rarely miss my log-log-duplex-decitrig K&E. :silly:
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Rich Hunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. research

They don't know how to do research, either - like how to find the information you need by using journal and magazine indexes and such. They take the lazy way out.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, card catalogues ...
... and other "manual" research (microfilm, etc.) seems to be totally unknown to these folk. Gawd! I remember spending HOURS and HOURS and HOURS for days on end in libraries, not only in college, but in junior high and high school. Then, to sit down at a typewriter, with the edited longhand version of a paper, and carefully, ever so carefully, trying to type out 10 or 20 or 30 pages, including footnotes and bibliography, without errors. (Sheesh!)
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DoBotherMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
2. I mentioned in a thread yesterday
that I used an IBM Executive typewriter in 1973. It is true that I had to memorize the number of spaces each character comprised and to make correction with correction sheets or liquid paper I had to backspace the correct number of spaces or the character would be out of synch. There were also special keys on the Executive that I used that were specific for typing legal documents, the superscript th, nd, and st being three. Dana ; )
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LandOLincoln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. I used an Executive machine in 1966-68, and it was
Edited on Fri Sep-10-04 11:50 AM by LandOLincoln
pure unadulterated hell.

Was working for Max Beberman's math project at UIUC. They hired English grads to produce camera-ready copy, and the two years between the time I was hired and the time I got promoted to an editorship were just awful. Of course we all had to memorize the number of spaces required for each letter, and in our case there were special keys for math symbols, etc.

These so-called "experts" don't know what the fork they're talking about.

One other thing I haven't seen mentioned: the assumption seems to be that Killian was doing his own typing, but really--how likely is that?
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DoBotherMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I was working for the government too ... IBM
gave huge price breaks to the state, we had IBM everything and we always had the latest equipment even a Mag Card. Gotta love Word! Dana ; )
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. I think it's likely that Killian typed his own 'CYA' memo.
That's why it's stylistically somewhat different than the others. As a command officer, I'm pretty confident he had a clerk/typist with an IBM Executive typewriter and he used it after hours to do his own 'CYA.'
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kcwayne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. I don't know if the model I used in 1977 was available in 1973
but it had all of the features you mention, except there was a backspace erase feature where you hit the erase key followed by the character you wanted to erase, and it would backspace appropriately and erase the character in question by restriking the letter onto a whiteout ribbon.

But all of this is silly. You can simply examine the original document to ascertain whether it was typed or printed. There should be no controversy on this at all.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Yes, it seems obvious to me the IBM Executive was used for these memos
The Executive (unlike the newer Selectric) had the conventional carriage, as I recall, and that carriage/platen assembly had the typical vertical 'slop' on character registration. (This was quite a bit less on the Selectric.) When I look at the memorandums, I see the same vertical variance from a baseline - the prototypical 'signature' of a typewriter with a left/right movable carriage.

Documents typed on typewriters had certain visible characteristics:
(1) A generally uniform stroke width on the characters, unlike offset and digital printing which uses varied stroke widths.
(2) Visible buildup of dirt and ink in the corners and loops of the characters. Thus, the loop of the "e" would often close up - as the most typed character with a small loop. Likewise, the corners between the serif and the stroke of the character would, over time, fill in with dirt and look thicker and 'curved'. (Diligent cleaning was a forte of good typists.)
(3) A slightly uneven character baseline, caused by vertical 'slop' of the platen, exacerbated by the vibration and wear and tear of horizontal carriage movement.
(4) Varying character emphasis as a result of the uneven surface of the platen as the typewriter is used over time. Many typists would overcome this uneven platen surface by inserting two sheets of paper, the bottom sheet tending to make a more even impact surface.
(5) A slight horizontal smearing of characters on manual typewriters caused by novice typists who'd hold down on the key. This would cause the carriage to detent under the hammer and add a slight smear. I recall the occasional double-strike, too.)

I see all of the first four on the memorandums. It seems obvious they were produced on an IBM Executive.
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stavka Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:31 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. Good article on the subject (link)
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Oh, yeah. This article is VERY interesting.
Hope the visiting experts take time to mull it over!
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Hunter_1253 Donating Member (121 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
15. These are the same kind of experts...
that told Ronnie St. Reagen that trees cause polution and that trading arms for hostages was a good plan. It's a lose/lose for the pResident...if they are real, he looks like a coward. If they are fake, who are they from? If the Dem's faked them, they would be much more damning and would have completely torn shrub a new one. If Rove faked them or another RW nut did it to cause controversy and try to point the finger at the Dem's, and people figure it out, then the Chimp will get reamed.
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